One of my all-time favorite comic strips is Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Watterson. In one strip, Moe is on the playground bullying Calvin. “Get off the swing, Twinky,” Moe demands. A defiant Calvin says, “Forget it, Moe. Wait your turn.”
In the next frame Moe knocks Calvin off the swing, out of his shoes and into the stars. In the third and final frame we see a bruised and beleaguered Calvin lying flat on his back. He says, “It’s hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightening.”
Have you ever felt like Calvin? Sometimes adversity lands a big punch to the stomach of our faith and we are left just as perplexed as Calvin.
I think of the Apostle John. You remember him, don’t you? Among the disciples he was a part of Jesus’ inner circle. Later in life, however, he was an exiled prisoner of the Roman government living out his days on the bleak island called Patmos. His life was no longer his own. He rose, dressed, ate, worked and slept at the dictates of others. And I wonder … did he ever think, “Lord, is this what I get for serving you? Is this the reward for my lifetime of service? It is not what I thought it would be!”
Do you feel stranded? Do trials and troubles have you feeling isolated and alone? Have you been thinking, “This is not what I thought it would be.” If you find yourself an exile on your own Patmos, God has three words for you. We find them in the book of Revelation.
“When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were bright like flames of fire. His feet were bright as bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was as bright as the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.’” (Revelation 1:1:12-18 NLT)
How do we get from Patmos to “Don’t be afraid”? The secret is in seeing Jesus the way John did.
Sometime ago the Oldsmobile company ran a commercial with the tag line: “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” Reading this passage in Revelation I am reminded, “This is not your Sunday School Jesus.” Using symbols that stir our imagination and awaken our emotions John paints a picture of powerful, majestic, glorified Jesus Christ.
This Jesus is able to answer any “Moe” that we may face or rescue us from any trial or trouble that lands in our back yard. Are you struggling on Patmos? The same Jesus who appeared to John puts his hand on your shoulder and says, “Don’t be afraid.” Trust him to get you off the island.
STAY FOCUSED TODAY: Before you leave this page to tackle whatever you must do, take a moment to see the Jesus John saw, to feel his hand and hear those wonderful words, “Don’t be afraid.”